Pat Huffman 03/29/17
Infusing beer with all kinds of crazy flavors has been around a long time but it is becoming more and more popular these days as brewers find unique ways to infuse different flavors into their beer.
I’ve seen all different kinds of spices, fruits, berries, vegetables, teas, wood, peppers, coffee, hops, coconut, you name it, and combinations of many of these ingredients. The possibilities are absolutely limitless.
I was at a taproom and they had the same beer with three different infusions. I was at a craft beer bar and they had 4 different beers with varying infusions. But why would they take a perfectly great beer and add all of these crazy combinations of flavor to it? Because the possibilities are virtually unlimited, it opens up a whole new world of beer, and isn't that what craft beer is all about?
If you have not done any infusions you are missing out on some amazing beer. It also feeds the creativity that made you want to homebrew in the first place. You can easily try different infusions and find the ones you really like. My first infusion beer was habanero peppers in a porter and it was absolutely amazing. I was at a craft beer event and had a mango habanero IPA that was just fantastic. I’d had the IPA that wasn’t infused and it was very good but add the mango and habanero and it turned into something amazing.
So how do you do it at the homebrew level? It’s actually very simple. I experiment with different infusions using 12 oz of the beer I want to use and a French Press. I measure and place the ingredients in the bottom of the French Press, I add the beer slowly trying not to get too much foam. I let it sit for 5 minutes, strain slowly with the French Press and the beer is ready to drink with the flavor now infused. If there is too much or not enough of a flavor you can easily make adjustments. If the infusion is unpleasant you can scrap it and your only out 12oz of beer and not 5 gallons. If you don’t have a French Press you can use a muslin or nylon bag to put your ingredients in.
Once you have experimented you can then scale the amount of ingredients up if you want to infuse an entire batch of beer, but before you do that, there is a much better way to infuse your beer. It’s called a Blichmann Hop Rocket.
The Blichmann Hop Rocket is designed to do a couple of things. It can be used as a hop back. A hop back is where you pump your hot wort through the Hop Rocket which is filled with aroma hops and then the aroma infused wort heads to the chiller and on to your fermenter. It can also be used as a randall. A randall is a device that sits between your keg and your tap allowing the beer to flow out of the keg, through the randall which is packed with your infusion ingredients, and then on to the tap.
The beauty of this type of setup is you can have your Hop Rocket filled with mango and habanero peppers (or whatever you choose) and the beer is great, and you decide you want to infuse a little blood orange, for example, with it. It’s as simple as adding the blood orange to the Hop Rocket and voila, it is now a blood orange, mango, habanero infused beer. Also if you want to totally change up the infusion, you can pull out the old ingredients, throw in the new ingredients and you now have a totally different beer.
Another really cool ingredient you can use in this way is hops. You simply add your aroma hops to the Hop Rocket as it is being used as a randall. The beer will flow from the keg through all of those aroma hops and become infused with the most amazing hop aroma you have every smelled as it is on it’s way to your glass.
Take your homebrew to a whole other level. Get your Hop Rocket today and start infusing tomorrow. Cheers!